Cambridge, Ontario-based Com Dev International has been awarded a $4.7 million contract to design satellite equipment for the first phase of the Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue Project.

Under the contract, which was awarded this week by Public Works and Government Services Canada, Com Dev will develop a repeater as part of the payload of a satellite for the next generation of the global search and rescue system known as Cospas-Sarsat. The repeater will be able to detect signals from emergency beacons and retransmit those signals to receiver stations on Earth.

Cospas-Sarat, which became operational in 1982, is a joint venture of Canada, the United States, France and Russia.

Com Dev said work on the first phase of the project is expected to last 15 months and will be done in its facilities in Cambridge and Ottawa. The contract has a $14-million option for development work to produce a prototype of the repeater for test and space qualification.

“This project demonstrates Canada’s continued commitment to the global search and rescue system,” Mike Pley, Com Dev’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “It is also an excellent example of how Canadian space technology can be harnessed for the benefit of all humanity.”